Take-Two's Zelnick is sceptical about video games subscription model

Take-Two's Zelnick is sceptical about video games subscription model

The CEO and president of publishing giant Take-Two Interactive Strauss Zelnick has expressed scepticism about the all-you-can-eat subscription-based model in video games.

Speaking at the Bernstein 35th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference - as reported by - the publishing boss and former film exec said that on average, a home will watch around five hours of TV or film each day, far more than it will spend playing games.

"If you're consuming that much, a subscription model makes a whole lot of sense," he said.

"Even a few of them make a whole lot of sense... But for video games, the daily consumption is under an hour and a half. It's 45 hours a month or less. And how do people consume video games? They're playing one, two, or three titles a month, and they may play those titles for six months.

"So now if you're paying a $15 or $20 monthly subscription but you're only consuming one to three games a month, it's a pretty terrible deal versus just buying the titles up front. And consumers intuitively stay away from terrible deals. They really do those economics intuitively, very effectively."

This isn't a perfect comparison, of course. People will likely be watching more film and TV because this content is readily available with a super low barrier to entry. Right now, games are a very expensive form of entertainment, with one of the incentives for publishers to get involved in this market being the opening up of the market to a far greater audience than ever before.

In an interview with recently. ID@Xbox US chief Chris Charla and EU head Agostino Simonetta pointed to Microsoft's Game Pass subscription service as offering consumers a wider array of content that they might not have played before, showing the potential to change behaviours with such a service. 


PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.